Posted 19 May 2004 - 01:48 AM
First of all, doggirl, a predated happy birthday for your Mom from another July-born survivor!
Given the briefing, have you considered a lovely sangria - or "sangaree" in old mixological parlance? Real Spanish and Portuguese versions contain a fair amount of hard liquor, apart from the wine, and I think they're ideal for the Summer.
Real sangrias do not contain carbonated sodas but, for those who wish to keep their alcohol content down (i.e. children!), filling them up in a highball glass with 7-up or Orangina and lots of ice is still absolutely delicious: think of it as a proper "wine cooler".
The trick of sangrias - whether Portuguese or Spanish - is fermentation. This means you must prepare it at least 24 hours beforehand, though it does get even better 48 or even 72 hours later.
I'm Portuguese so I'll give you the Portuguese recipe, but the (various) Spanish recipes are all delicious.
For red sangria, you use red wine and red fruits. For white sangria (which I prefer in the summer), you use white wine and non-red fruits: peaches, apples, apricots, pineapple. But hey, it's absolutely flexible. Both red and white need a lot of oranges, lemons and lime. But, after that, it's up to you.
The secret: you leave the wine to ferment in a lot of fruit and castor sugar, to which you've added generous amounts of cognac, fruit-based dry liqueurs (Cointreau is essential), dry gin and - if you like it - some anise liqueur, such as Marie Brizard - not Pernod. Leave it for 24 hours - peels and all.
After that, you have your base. You're now free to add fresh fruits and whatever you think the sangria needs - it could be a little cinnamon, a lot of mint, cucumber...
This works for red or white. But here's the Portuguese "sangria branca" recipe, for a big three-litre jug:
- 2 bottles of very good, young (this means 2003 vintage), dry white wine. Sancerre is ideal, Muscadet just as good. Any good white wine will do. (A lot of people think that punches and sangarees are a good opportunity of using inferior wines and booze - big mistake!);
- A quarter-bottle of cognac;
- A quarter-bottle of Cointreau or Grand Marnier;
- A quarter-bottle of decent dry London gin (Gordon's is the lower limit);
- A wine-glass of Southern Comfort;
- A wine-glass of Calvados, good apple shnapps or, best of all, Swiss or French pear-based eau-de-vie;
- 2 tbs of anis (I hate aniseed but it works, don't ask me why):
- Half-pound of white sugar;
- Three fresh peaches, cut up into slices;
- Two sharp green apples, eg. Granny Smith's, cut up:
- A dozen fresh red cherries, stoned and squashed;
- A dozen strawberries;
- Half a pineapple, cut into cubes.
Mash all the fruit and sugar with a pestle, adding the liquid little by little. Hey, you can also be careless and put it all in together as there won't be much difference.
Leave the jug in a warm place, covered with a clean napkin, for at least 24 hours.
An hour before the time comes to serve it, divide the sangria into two 2-litre jugs (or a big punch bowl) and add:
- Three whole oranges, cut into slices (don't squeeze the juice);
- Two whole lemons - same thing;
- Two whole limes - same thing.
- A lot (and I mean a lot!) of fresh mint, just the leaves, no stalks.
To serve, you should have lots of ice and highball glasses. For those who want it neat, just lots of ice and fill it up. For those who prefer mixers (7-up, Orangina, cream soda, Schweppes bitter lemon, even ginger ale), choose the proportions accordingly.
The truth is that the initial sangria base is so delicious that it's always good whatever you do.
Never put ice or mixers into the mother lode! After the party, there will be a lot left and it'll just get better and better, fermenting and enclosing all the fruity flavours with the fruity alcohols.
Finally, any fruit will do, as long as it's very fresh. Apart from the gin (I've tried vodka three or four times but it didn't work, though I suspect infused vodkas would be kick-ass), what you have, essentially, is fruit-based wine and fruit-based eaux-de-vie, mixed with sugar and fruits. That's why it's infallible!
Hope you try all the suggested punches before July and choose the one you think your mother will like most. There's still a while to go before July but all the necessary fruits (think cherries too!) are approaching their best.